The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

I had a bad day, but you’re a jerk

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We all know what we thought before we did that thing we really shouldn’t have done. We had a reason. Maybe it wasn’t a good reason, but unless we’re in an existentialist novel it wasn’t completely random and without motivation. Our understanding of why we do things is inextricably linked to what happened around us […]

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!

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The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a beacon in a grittily realistic, grimdark pop culture landscape, one guiding lost souls to fun, charm and adventure. And I’m glad to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour adapted from podcast radio play into graphic novel because I like what it portends for fun stories in the future and because […]

The Turn of the Tale

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Carol’s wonderful piece about Frozen nearly had me writing one of my own.  Sisters being friends, yay! Snowman not as annoying as feared, yay! Big number for Idina Menzel, yay! But the bulk of what I had to say boiled down to ‘better than I thought’. That’s a sentence, not a column. But Carol’s column […]

Frozen: Jane Austen Meets The Snow Queen

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My mom raised me with three things: Feminism; “You don’t have to like your sister, but you can’t hit her”; and a dislike of Disney. Writing them down now, I realize that all three are more applicable to Frozen, than I thought when I decided I should state my bias. I respect Disney’s progress in […]

The Dark Knight and the Bitter Tears of Alfred Pennyworth: Batman and Realism Part 2

This week Screen Editor alex MacFadyen and Comics Editor Carol Borden continue discussing The Dark Knight Rises. We both like Batman and we’re fascinated by how many different Batmans there are. Even though there are things we like about the film, we want to figure out what is it about The Dark Knight Rises‘ Batman […]

A History of Cinderella

Terry Windling recounts the history of the Ash Girl or Cinderella story from the 9th Century Yeh–hsien to the Disney film, Cinderella, based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 version.

Interview with the Quay Brothers

“Depth, light, sound, music: Stephen and Timothy Quay speak on the many dimensions of film,” both animated and live-action, at Keyframe.

Chinese Animation from the 1940s

Princess Iron Fan is the first Chinese animated feature and it stars Monkey, Sun Wu-Kong. The Wan Bros. made it in 1941 in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. LoveHKFilm has more and you can watch it here.  

RIP, Kaneto Shindo

Director and screenwriter Kaneto Shindo has died. He lived past 100 and made masterpieces including Onibaba, Kuroneko, Children of Hiroshima, Lucky Dragon No. 5 and The Naked Island. He also wrote the screenplays for Seijun Suzuki’s Fighting Elegy, Yasuzo Masumura Irezumi, Kinji Fukasaku’s Under the Flag of the Rising Sun, Seijiro Koyama’s Hachi / Hachiko […]

Author’s Cut, Courtesy of the Ebook Revolution

Recent fantasy novels seem to spend a lot of time describing their magic systems – who can use magic? how does it work? and at what cost to the magic user? C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka is, in most senses, no exception to this, since these questions are answered quite clearly. That said, Cherryh’s answers have some […]

Once Upon A Time There Was A Magic Negro

Team Valkyrie FTW likes Once Upon A Time, but “goddamn is it problematic when it comes to race….Do not let this shit slip past you: The only black man in the entire Enchanted Forest is quite literally a Magical Negro. Who is there to grant three wishes to his master. I’m not making this shit […]

“Ninety-Nine Weeks, A Fairy Tale”

At the excellent Bookview Cafe, Ursula K. LeGuin writes a fairytale of unemployment. My favorite line? “The Works Fairies are not functioning at present.”

Minimalist Children’s Classics

Flavorwire has a gallery of Minimalist cover designs for classic children’s stories and fairy tales.

The Kids Are All Right

Despite my whinging last month, I do in fact both read and love a lot of young adult Romance.  I  may not be fond of the ‘Supernatural Boyfriend of the Week’ subgenre (and no, Stephanie Meyer did not invent it; it’s been out there for decades), but that still leaves me with a large field […]

Disney Princesses in Period Dress

Illustrator Claire Hummel reinterprets Disney princess costumes to make them more historically accurate. (via The Bookshelves of Lesser Doom)

RIP, Peter Falk

Actor Peter Falk has died.  He was probably best known as Grandpa in The Princess Bride and Lt. Columbo in Columbo, but he worked for Frank Capra, Nicholas Ray, John Cassavetes, Wim Wenders, Robert Altman and Robert Wise.  And gave probably the finest performance ever at The Dean Martin Roast.  The Guardian, The Telegraph and […]

Manga Eiga: Old Japanese Animation

The Japan Society had a program featuring Japanese animation from the 1910s-1940s.  Even if you missed it, you can still see some shorts –a beautiful 1929 silent featuring Tengu; sing along with a 1930 papercut animation village festival; an unfortunate butterfly from 1931; tricks between a fox spirit and a pair of tanuki in 1933; […]

Don’t Let The Sheepinator Fool You

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Does being amused by turning non-ovine creatures into sheep make you a bad person? It doesn’t seem like a serious question, but appearances can fool you. Especially, according to Plato, if you are a fool. I think it’s safe to say that there would have been no video games in the Republic.

All That Fairy Tale Nonsense

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One of the many criticisms levelled at romance novels is that they’re a poor model for women when it comes to real-life relationships. All that fairy tale nonsense, detractors say, will make women want the wrong things from their partners. I could list a dozen things wrong with that assumption, but I’ll limit myself to […]

The Mysterious Specimen Cases of Alex CF

A severed dragon head, a monkey’s paw, a vampire pharaoh and an interdimensional cat are all specimens collected and mounted by artist Alex CF. Cryptids, oddities and mythical monsters presented with retro-Victorian naturalism. (thanks, Ariel!)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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